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Worship columnist Suzanne Ybarra asks readers what experiences, views, and charactaristics make up who they are

Who are you? What determines who you are? Is it the way you look? The work you do? Your family? Your choices? Thoughts? Race, culture, or gender?

If you said, "yes" to any of these options, let me ask you another question. Would you still be you if all your hair fell out? You changed jobs? You got married, divorced, reunited, or adopted children? What if you decide to go to a bar? Or church?

Would you still be you if you thought you are unworthy of God's love? What if you thought you are his favorite?

FAITHFULLY Suzanne YbarraWhat if your skin color changed? Do you go through your day thinking, "I'm (this color) so I have to go there, do that, and be this"? Society tells us what we can/cannot do based on our skin color and gender but in our personal depths, are we a color or gender?

I've never told myself, "I'm a girl so I can only like the color pink and I have to think about how to make the prettiest bouquet of flowers." I'm being silly here just to make my point: I don't research what women are supposed to do and then force myself to do those things. My gender does not inform me of who I am.

I'm asking you about your essence. Who are you deep down? For example, J. Andrew Kirk* wrote about what "church" is. He said, "Mission is so much at the heart of the churches life that, rather than think of it as one aspect of its existence, it is better to think of it as defining its essence."

Mission, the reaching out to others with the good news of Jesus Christ, is what the church is. The church is outreach. Sharing the good news is so deep inside the church that it defines who she is. What is so deep inside you that it defines who you are?

Do an exercise with me, please. Direct your attention to your mind. Notice your thoughts. Then direct your attention to your heart. Notice your feelings. Gently repeat. Notice your thoughts. Go to your heart. Notice your feelings.

Next, consider who is noticing your thoughts and feelings. Mentally, take a step back and look at what you just did. Who was noticing your thoughts and feelings?

I asked my son to do the above exercise. At first, he said he was the sum of his experiences. I asked him who was having the experiences. We had a good conversation.

For our conversation, here and now, I offer a couple more clarifying questions. What is it that if it were taken away from you, would change who you are? Or asked another way, if everything about you and your life changed, what one thing would have to remain the same for you to still be you?

Contact Suzanne Ybarra at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Anyone interested in writing an editorial piece for the Worship page is encouraged to do so. Contact Editor Phil Hawkins at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

* J. Andrew Kirk is former Dean and Head of the School of Mission and World Christianity at Selly Oak Colleges,

Birmingham, England.

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